hi folks, although I was not at the meeting about accessibility last
semester, I wanted to share with you something I just learned about - a
free open-source plug-in to simulate a text-only screen reader. it is
called FANGS, i.e. like JAWS which is the main commercially available
as noted in this blog entry, it has been difficult for developers to see
what their pages look like in JAWS since you cannot get a free copy of
JAWS to use for testing. that is the niche that FANGS is designed to
fill! if you are interested in this kind of thing, please read the blog
post below and visit the standards-schmandards.com website linked there.
they are the developers behind FANGS.
below I've listed simple instructions for installing the extension. once
it is installed you can view any webpage in simulated text-reader mode.
and for what it's worth, I did go to the Disability Services website
here at OU (http://www.sa.ou.edu/ods/), where they have a link on the
front page that says "Improve your own web site's accessibility. Click
here for more information." - I clicked on the link, and alas it did not
anyway, FANGS is the first concrete tool I have had for simulating
accessility issues with my online course materials. I hope maybe you
will find it useful too!
DOWNLOADING AND INSTRUCTIONS
this is a Mozilla Firefox extension, so if you have not given the
wonderful Mozilla Firefox a try, now is an excuse to do so.
the link for the extension is here:
Make sure you have Firefox version 1.0 or later (not the preview
Save the Fangs.XPI file to your hard drive.
Open the Fangs.XPI file from Firefox (File menu - Open).
Done. Go to a web page, right-click and select Fangs from the context
Bloglines user LauraGibbs ([log in to unmask]) has sent this item to
Technologies for Learning, Thinking & Collaborating
Fangs: The Screen Reader Emulator Plugin for Mozilla
By sleslie on The Rest
A few years back now my colleague Dr. Bruce Landon brought a blind
student with him to one of our BC Ed Tech gatherings to have him
demonstrate accessing a course within a CMS via the screen reader JAWS.
JAWS is, as far as I know, a market leader and often held up as a de
jure standard for accessibility.
What the demonstration showed me and others was that, even though on a
technical level the CMS (in this case WebCT) was accessible through JAWS
(e.g. JAWS could read it and the student could access different parts of
the course) it was absolutely UN-USABLE - a streamingly long scream of
text and navigation links one after another that even for the student,
who was used to both JAWS and WebCT, presented difficulties. (To be
fair, this isn't an anti-WebCT screed, and from what I know they have
made improvements in this regard).
The point is, meeting accessbility standards is a bare minimum, but it
doesn't make the content usable for those using assistive technolgoies.
And here's where this plug-in comes in. The free, open source 'Fangs'
plug-in for Mozilla/Firefox avoids one of the challneges designers have
with creating accessibly usable pages, which is that JAWS has a license
cost associated with it and so many people simply assume that if it
conforms to W3C WCAG or Section 508 guidelines, that's enough. It's not,
and it's a case where 'seeing' (actually 'hearing') is believing.
'Fangs' allows you to read web pages more like how the users of an
assistive reader will hear them. And trust me, usually it ain't pretty.